Friday, January 13, 2012

Cherry Picking the Constitution

Much appreciation to Ophelia Benson for pointing me at this story, but first... some background.

For those of you who haven't caught wind of this story, or haven't been keeping up with it, Jessica Ahlquist is a 16 year old high school student in Rhode Island who saw something wrong taking place at her school and worked to correct it using the most effective means at her disposal. As it happens that 'Something' was an obviously Christian prayer banner hanging in her school auditorium (picture after the jump). Oh, and the means by which this gross oversight was dealt with? Another pretty weighty document that predates the banner by, oh, something like a hundred and seventy-five years. Roughly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cthulhu for President

**Warning: The following is the result of too much caffeine,  nicotine and gothic horror, Lovecraft readers are welcome**

Recently awakened from his prison in R'lyeh, the Great Old One has stirred forth... and he's Republican...

We caught up with the Ancient Lord of Earth at the New Hampshire primaries, for a chat about his stance on the issues.

(Reporter) So, Mister Cthulhu, you seem to be lagging behind in the polls, do you still think you have a chance at the nomination?


(R) I...uhm... I don't think...

(C) Puny flesh-thing! I am older than the stones! Why do you not bow before your master?

(R) I... so... quite confident, then? Good, because you'll need it going into South Carolina next week. Tell us... uhm... Cthulhu... we haven't heard much about where you stand on the issues. What about marriage equality?

(C) All shall be equal in their suffering. This world will serve me as it once did before you up-right simians arrogantly sought to supplant me with your make-believe deities!

(R) So, you're in favor of same-sex marriages, and you obviously don't follow the religious right. Why did you choose to run on the Republican ticket with values that obviously don't mesh with the rest of the party?


(R) ..... Did... d-d-did you... just eat that man?

(C) Yes...

(R) ...

(C) Your vapid mind cannot comprehend the morality of the Ancient Ones! You will all die. Those who serve will be granted my greatest mercy, in the form of a swift death before the world is plunged into darkness and chaos, and I am able to rejoin my fellow gods! ...

(R) Serve you...

(C) Until then, I pledge to enforce my will upon you, and abolish all your foolish mortal governance. Your weapons of war are useless, so I will abolish gun control and so that you may be fruitful and provide me with more to serve, I will also abolish abortion, except those that result from devouring women heavy with child. As I have no use for your worthless commerce, taxation is also hereby ended, may your greed rot you from within.

Behold the glory of Cthulhu, and BOW!


(C) Good man-ape. Heh heh heh...

Welcome to America: Land of the Free (unless you're pregnant)

That fine print can be a killer, huh?

Apparently, after every SINGLE 'Personhood' amendment failed last November, some asshole in Ohio decided to ramp this vaguely worded rhetoric back up.

Now, I'm in Mississippi, I believe I've mentioned, one of the states that Personhood USA tried this schtick with this past fall. Proposition 26, they called it. Vote for Life was one of their favorite slogans... For life, but against personal freedoms. Not that it would have much mattered if it had passed, as the state constitution forbids any law that forces one person to serve another... and isn't that the very definition of forcing a woman to carry a child she doesn't want/never intended on keeping? Anyone who's ever been pregnant will tell you, 'I'm eating for two' or 'I have to take care of myself, for the baby'... Sure sounds like servitude to me.

On the one side, you have some fundamentalist wing-nuts who are so hopped up on their 'Right to Life' bullshit that one half expects them to break into Monty Python's 'Every Sperm is Sacred' (it's medical experiments for the lot of ya). What they're trying to do is add an amendment to the state constitution (of pretty much any state) which just says:

(A) The words "person" in Article 1, Section 16, and "men" in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.
(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human "eggs" or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.
Which, while being a good deal less vague than November's Personhood amendment language (pretty much leaving out all of the (b) section above), is still an end-run around Roe v. Wade, as well as most states' existing bill of rights. Usually something takes precedence over these kinds of trivial after-thoughts. IE: You can't add X if it disagrees with or contradicts A-J. Standard procedure for every level of the legislative process, from municipal to federal. The problem is, this means that if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of events beyond her control, she has no choice but to carry that child to term, and while the Pro side will regale the public with anecdotal evidence in support of the 'blessing' that this 'miracle' child was to their (friend/mother/sister/cousin/niece/aunt/etc) the reasoning falls apart. None will ever directly answer the question 'How is taking away the rights of one person in any way Constitutional?' Notice also that the language of this amendment doesn't include anything respecting accidental miscarriages, which would become the equivalent of manslaughter, if these kinds of ridiculous propositions manage to pass. We only have the word of supporters that this would not be the case. All it would take is one angry (ex) husband or boyfriend going to a lawyer and forcing the police to enforce the law as written.

The other side will tell you how this change will give rapists control over the reproductive rights of women, and will make birth control illegal, while cutting off access to fertility clinics (which do also perform abortions in many cases) and vilifying IVF doctors. While there is some alarmist rhetoric in the Con argument, for the most part it's merely a slight exaggeration of the truth.

In my opinion, I prefer to find a comfortable middle ground (yes, even in the abortion debate there's plenty of grey area) between these two extreme interpretations of the amendment. My first problem with it has nothing to do with babies or the reproductive process at all. I'm against this law because it flies in the face of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was carefully worded to PREVENT misapplication and misinterpretation. It also smacks of unconstitutional application of the legislative process. The organization spearheading these state level amendments has, time and again, been shut out by a strong majority, even in conservative (largely pro-life) states. Rather than taking a 55%-60%+, and rather resounding, NO! from the voters though, they are wading in again to try and circumvent popular opinion by trying to lobby for the change in the state senate and congress. The representatives there would do well to listen to the voters who have already spoken, and choose NOT to take action that would be contrary to the documented will of the populace.

Do I disagree with abortion? In principle, yes and I swear never to go and get one... I'll wait while that one sinks in. In practice, however, my opinion cannot be applied to the majority. When speaking in constitutional terms, amendments being made there are applied to every person, equally. I cannot, in good consciousness, vote for an amendment that would sacrifice the rights of others, simply so that I feel better. I cannot force my will on another person, and amendments of this type do exactly that. This is a choice left to a woman and her morality. Even the father, prior to birth, has no control over this decision... which is the way it ought to be, because if the pregnancy carries to term then that father can have already left the state and might never have to take any responsibility, while the mother (at the time of birth) has endured ~9 months of pain and discomfort that NO one else can suffer in her place.

In fact, think about the result of being FORCED to carry a child to term and either A) raise it, or B) give the child up for adoption. How might that child suffer as a result? How might it benefit? The mother in these cases (often enough to have statistics to back it up) is usually unprepared, under (or un) employed, so we're asking the American public to help foot the bill for the pre-natal care and post-birth care, WIC, Food Stamps, school lunch programs, etc. As a result, the child often ends up having fewer opportunities to grow (socially/mentally). As to the benefit... it will be alive, but what kind of life will it lead? Will a boy in this situation end up causing yet more unwanted pregnancies? Will a female child end up HAVING an unwanted pregnancy?

The fact is, most women who end up getting abortions tend to be from the lower end of the socio-economic curve. Children born to these women, historically speaking, tend to perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the lower class demographic, especially if they are single mothers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Mark Twain coined the phrase in his autobiography, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

I agree, and interestingly enough all three get utilized when painting a portrait of an opposing group. The specific case I'm talking about is the current anti-Muslim sentiments being vomitted forth by far too many groups in the Western World.

From the suburbs of St. Louis to television networks, and who can forget the 'Ground Zero Mosque' debacle in late 2010 (it opened last September, incidentally). I'd like to say this is a uniquely American issue, and that the rest of the world is more tolerant and welcoming, but... then we have these wack-jobs, proving that the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on crazy, right-wing, hate-mongering, fuck-tards. We do, however, boast the most public right-wing, hate-mongering, fuck-tards.

There go those crazy Americans again, with their loony bloggers organizing massive press conferences, and their ... wait... FUCKING PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS? Are you serious? Yup, that's right... Welcome your next Republican nominee. The ignorant bigot.

And I'm not just picking on Newt here either. Even the guy I pretty much gave a reach around in a couple previous posts, Ron Paul... here's what he has to say on the matter:

“The question ultimately revolves around one issue, that one demands our total support, with power, determination, and one voice, and it is this: Does Islam, or does it not, force people, by the Power of the Sword, to submit to its authority corporally, if not spiritually? The answer is Yes.”

I won't get into Sarah 'Titty McBangBang' Palin, or Michelle 'Batshit Crazy' Bachmann, but let's just look at the front runner for the GOP...

Mitt? Gimme somethin' good:

“They are peace-loving and America-loving individuals. I believe that very sincerely. I believe people of the Islamic faith do not have to subscribe to the idea of radical, violent jihadism.”

... wait... Goddamnit, Mitt... You keep being reasonable and shit, and I might have to stop imagining you being skull-fucked by a buffalo. Too bad you're still a big homophobe.

Interestingly, I couldn't find anything from any non-republican leaders that specifically cited either acceptance or rejection of Islam. The only people who are vehemently (and violently) anti-Muslim are Republicans, everyone else just doesn't take a stand either way... which, while pretty evasive, is still better than publicly decrying it as ... wait... what did you call it Mister Santorum ... The quotes reliably attributed to him are too lengthy and obscure to place here, but follow that link and take a look.

Here's the facts:

There are ~1.5 billion (that's a 1 a 5 and 8 zeros) Muslims, of some flavor or another, on Earth.
There are ~2 billion Christians, of some flavor or another.

Sweeping generalizations about either group, or focusing only on the most violent and abhorent behaviors of people who identify with EITHER faith is an ignorant fallacy.

There are crazy fuckers who are Christians and crazy fuckers who are Muslim and I'm sure there are some crazy fucking Buddhists, Hinduists, etc. The thing is, that doesn't mean all Christians/Muslims/Buddhists/etc are crazy fuckers. It means there are some crazy fuckers in the world, some of whom also HAPPEN to be Christian... Sarah Palin comes to mind, again. This is no less ignorant than the fear of Communism or Russians. The over generalization of these hateful sentiments is only adding fuel to an inferno. It's continuing the same rhetoric that charismatic, anti-American groups are using to recruit young men in the Middle East.

So, Newt, Rick, Ron, you pasty fuckers are part of the problem, not the solution. Fix your shit, or get the fuck on.

Monday, January 9, 2012

No Hope, No Cash, No Jobs...

It's becoming increasingly popular, among journalists who still think Obama is their boyfriend, to report on the steady, teasing, trickle of jobs being 'created' by the current administration. Point of fact, they really didn't. What they managed to do is increase spending on temporary contractors and independent employees. I expect, if you tally up total man-hours, figuring 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, the total number would be a damn-sight lower.

According to the people who actually track this shit, (that's the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, not NPR, btw) the total number of jobs created in the last two years has only been around 120,000. Consider that, prior to Chocolate Jesus taking office (he's not your boyfriend), the unemployment rate was around 5%. Alright, I'll grant you that the spike in 2009 was not of his making. That was back-lash from Giggles McFuck-Nut (you know him as George Bush) spending 8 years making a mockery of the presidency. So, in all, the spike to 10.1% that took less than a year (a ~5% jump) has taken more than two years now to recover just 1.3%...

I know, that's a lot of math there, and I may have lost some conservatives. Let me explain. We went from 5% (appx 15 million) of Americans being unemployed, to 10.1% at the peak (appx 30 million). Thats  a relatively small number... getting REALLY FUCKING BIG in just 11 months. Now, here we are at the beginning of 2012 and we've only recovered by 1.6%. So, in nearly two years since unemployment spiked, less than 500,000 people came off the unemployment teat. Yet, Barry-O is claiming responsibility for creating 2.6 million new jobs? ... Where?! How the fuck do I get one, because obviously they haven't been filled yet?!

Am I the only one reading this shit? Do these monkeys really believe the American public isn't going to fact check?

Apparently they do, because Mitt Romney is the front runner for the GOP nomination, and there are a cock wad of other knuckle-heads who have an equally fair shot... Hell, Michelle (Crazy Tits) Bachmann was a serious contender for a while there.

So, as it stands, I'm not voting for Obama again. I'm damn sure not voting for a Republican that isn't Ron Paul and if Mitt Romney gets the GOP nod, I'm either gonna write in this little fella:

Cross my fingers and hope that R. Lee Wrights (who I disagree with on a number of issues, but he's neither a giant douche nor a turd-sandwich), or... Fuck it, I'll run on the independent ticket my goddamn self.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Not Fair! -- Insights on Equality, from David, Age 9

So, last night my son challenged my definition of equality... Well... not really. It was a fairly standard kid argument resulting from some perceived injustice. I won't go into my parenting style in detail, because I'm pretty sure no one cares. Suffice it to say, he got himself in trouble and his punishment was the loss of a privilege which, at the time, his sister was enjoying.

"It's not FAIR!" he shouted as he stomped his way up the stairs to pout in his room.

That's about the time I stopped him and called him back down stairs so that I could explain to him, in a simple yet detailed fashion, precisely what 'Fair' is. It forced me to reevaluate exactly what equality IS and exactly why equality is important to me, and what kind of world I want both my son AND my daughter to be prepared for.

I came to a few basic conclusions about what makes a situation 'Fair'. I'll start with a little story and I'll explain myself afterwards.

Lets imagine, for a moment, that we have three kids. We have Tyrone, Chris and Joe. Tyrone lives in a low to middle class neighborhood with a single mother in an apartment. Chris lives in a rural area with both parents who are self employed. Finally, we have Joe and Joe lives in a suburban neighborhood, also with both parents who are both gainfully employed.

All three go through school at about the same rate, end up getting about the same grades and have relatively similar experiences. All three end up applying to the same college, but Tyrone doesn't get in, even though all three have approximately the same SAT and ACT scores... So why didn't Tyrone get in?

Ask yourself a few questions, first. What genders are these three kids? You'll note I didn't give them. What ethnic/racial background do you believe each of them is? You'll note I didn't give that either. Economically, all three are widely varied, but in my little story...

Tyrone is a caucasian male
Chris is a caucasian female
Joe is a black male

This isn't me popping up a straw-man, it's an actual example of how college acceptance works. There are bean counters at most major universities who keep track of how many woman and minorities (non-caucasian) are being enrolled. Non-minorities (white males) are bumped to a lower priority to make room. It all has to do with affirmative action and 'White Guilt'.

Now, I'm by no means racist or sexist, but by the definition I gave my 9 year old, what I've described above is expressly not 'Fair'. Fair would be measuring all applicants by the same standards. Why there's even a check box for gender and race on these things, I'm not sure. Tyrone is no less deserving of the opportunity than anyone else. Lets go back to that example and add in a chance at a scholarship, which may be the only way Tyrone gets to go to college in the first place, all things considered. Because he's male and not a minority, though, he gets passed up for that as well.

I'm all for changing standards to make those standards more appropriate for a larger section of the population, but apply the same standards to everyone, regardless of gender and/or race. There's no reason to have three different sets of standards for three different demographic groups. In my mind, Affirmative Action did a lot to set the civil rights movement back several decades, because it tells employers to expect LESS from non-white male applicants and tells universities that they HAVE to accept more non-white male students, even if those who are accepted don't meet the standard level of qualifications normally required for acceptance.

To look at it another way, if Tyrone scrapes through and manages to get a four year degree, and he and Joe both end up applying for the same job (lets say as a RN in an ER), but Joe graduated at the top of his class while Tyrone just barely made it through... wouldn't you rather have Joe meet your ambulance at the door than Tyrone? I know, I switched that up on you, but my point is... does it really matter what color a person's skin is, if they're the most qualified individual for the position? Does their gender matter?

So, maybe that's a bigger issue than belongs on a tiny little blog like this. What about social interactions? Should some one have to stop telling a joke, if some one who happens to be a part of the ethnicity/gender the joke is about shows up? Does that mean I can't tell jokes about ignorant southern white guys? Pretty much EVER? I live in fucking Mississippi, those assholes are EVERYWHERE! But, fair is fair, either I can't tell jokes ABOUT a group of people IN FRONT of that group of people, then that rule applies to all groups. Not one or two in particular.

Equality means treating everyone the same, regardless of who they are. It definitely does not mean changing one's behavior in relation to one particular ethnicity/gender/religion/sexual orientation but not another.

That's not what 'Fair' means.

Welcome to the South: Keeping our kids ignorant, since 1863.

There are days that I'm pretty okay with living south of the Mason-Dixon line, and then there are days that I get so unbelievably pissed the fuck off that I just want to stab some one in the eye.

Apparently, I'm rather lucky to have kids in the Mississippi public school system right now, because previously there was no Sex Ed curriculum allowed by the state. New this year, they've begun teaching it in 6th grade. Like most of the South, the options were either a completely useless attempt at stopping teen sex altogether or the subject just wasn't mentioned. Neither of which actually addresses the reality of the matter.

Be honest with yourself, how old were you when you had your first sexual encounter... No, really honest. It's okay, there won't be a pop quiz later. According to the Kinsey Institute, the average age for men is ~16 and for women it's ~17, with more than 25% of BOTH having had their first sexual experience by age 15, or younger, and how many of these do we figure are educated? Well, happily, the same study caught that tid bit also. I'm talking about 'Safe-Sex', which in my opinion is kind of a misnomer since there's no such thing as 'safe', just 'safER'.

Let me put my outrage in context for you. I have a 5 year old daughter, and a 9 year old son. If the numbers from this study are correct, then that would imply that out of ten occurrences, my son is going to fuck up twice, and not use a rubber, if he has sex between 14 and 17... on average, and my daughter will be in a much worse boat. ~4 out of ten fuck ups. Well... what the hell does that mean?

Out of every 1000 women in Mississippi, between 15 and 19, about 64 of them will get pregnant. That's the highest teen pregnancy rate in the COUNTRY! Fuck fuck fuck! DOUBLE FUCK! Matter of fact, seven states in the south reported 5% or more of teenage girls would get pregnant before they were 19. Holy SHIT! Now, add to that the fact that the biggest offenders there, are also part of the same group of states that gives NO information about contraception.

Now, as a father, I have two choices while I live in the state of Mississippi... I can either chain my daughter in her room until she's thirty, and vacuum seal my son's penis, or... I can do this weird new thing that folks are trying out... It's called Being A Parent.

Obviously I'm not going to convince my kids to never have sex. The studies don't lie. Kids who make 'virgin' promises are just as likely to have sex as kids who don't. The only difference really, is that the kids who get the proper education and information on the subject are less likely to end up makin' babies, because condom use increases when kids are educated instead of having the subject hidden from them. So I made a power point for them, and I'll update it appropriately as they get older. They already know what to expect from puberty, and once we reach that hurdle, I'll roll out the 'Sex' talk, and include all manner of bland visual aids, just like the ones I had when I went to school, in Washington State... where they started sex ed in the 2nd grade.

It's fortunate that I haven't relied on public schools to provide pertinent and accurate information for the last fifteen years, because if I did this whole subject might come as a bit of a shock to me.

How is This Still Even a Question?

Well ho-lee shit...

Alright. You know it, and I know it, but apparently some people still haven't figured it out yet. Marriage isn't necessarily a religious rite. As soon as the government began conveying specific benefits, rights and advantages, that was no longer the case. We have this piece of paper, a pretty important piece of paper, that guarantees the separation of religon and government. You call it the Bill of Rights. I call it 'End of Discussion'.

Eventually, at the rate things are moving, the federal government extending those rights to same-sex couples won't even be an issue. Six states, so far (soon to be more) have passed legislation, either in general elections or in congressional sessions, that gives gay couples the same rights as hetero couples. At what point are the scales going to tip, though? When will we, as a country... as a society... hell, as a race, stand up and go "Holy shit, what the hell were we thinking? Why did we ever argue about this?" ... the cynic in me is saying 'Pssht, never... idiot'... I'm not an optomist, so that's pretty much as far as that goes.

The fundamental religous groups like to throw around the notion that, somehow, to be gay is to be particularly and exceptionally promiscuous, yet here is this desire from the gay community to be committed and monogomous to one person... I know... kinda fucks up the party line. How the fuck do we hate people who want to be exactly like us? Well... clearly they're fucking up family values by... uhh... wanting to demonstrate that they have family values.

Then we have assholes like this over here who are just perpetuating a cycle of hate, and worse they're justifying that hate under the guise of religion. The levels on which this pisses me off are manifold.

How the FUCK does two guys stemming the rose, in a committed and monogomous relationship, with a signed court document, violate the sanctity of Jack and/or Shit? I know... that sounds like a rhetorical question... doesn't it?

There are six states, in all, that are putting the issue up this year, my home state of Washington being one of them. Here's hoping all six pass and more states follow suit.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Politics -- I'm throwing my hat in this ring too.

Another Rich White Guy runs for the Republican presidential nomination, and for once I'm not a-Paul-ed (I couldn't help myself) by his platforms. I'm also, happily, not the first to see the media shit-storm for what it really is.

Now, I am, by no means, a Republican, but I'm also not one to continue taking it in the ass from Chocolate Jesus for another four years. Mae West said,“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before”, and I, for one, agree with her. I'd rather try out a bit of something new and different. Is there a chance that it'll be worse? Yes. Is there a chance that it might get better? Absolutely. Is there a chance that it'll be more of the same self-aggrandizing bullshit that we've heard for the last four years? Not really. I expect all new self-aggrandizing bullshit. It's American Politics, and until we get rid of this stupid fucking two-party system, it's really all we have.

I'm of the opinion that no party gets it all right all the time. The Libertarians want to do away with the USDA, a government body that ensured that my hard working single mother of two was able to feed my brother and I while busting her ass at a minimum wage job she had to drive to, 45 minutes a day in a rusted out 20 year old VW Beetle. The Democrats are limp-wristed pussies who can't even get their shit together on a single polarizing issue long enough to mount a suitable defense of it in their own fucking house. That says a lot about how well the Democratic wagons are circled in defense of Barry 'Chocolate Jesus' Obama. The Green Party is so vehemently 'Green' that they'd rather shoot themselves in the foot than actually utilize the long term energy resources available. And finally, the Republicans... I'm not going to say all Republicans are racist, but ... "If you're racist, you're probably Republican". That said... every now and again, one of these ding-bats hits a home run.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was one candidate, just one time, that you could point to and go 'That motherfucker right there just said everything I've been thinking since I was old enough to stop shitting in my pants'. They say that if you're a Republican before you're thirty you have no heart, and if you're a Democrat after you're thirty you have no brain... What if you've never been either?

Friday, January 6, 2012

You're So Fucking Gay

So, enough of these pot shots at Atheists. Like any other group, they have stupid fuckers in their ranks too. It's time to put a different bunch of people up on the firing line...

No, not gay people... I'm talking about the ignorant fuckers behind Prop 8 in California, Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh and all those other fuckers who cater to the knuckle-dragging masses. The people who like to quote Leviticus as their reasoning for being hate-mongers.

I'm probably going to end up using 'Fuck' a lot, in this post.

Lets run down the list of things being railed against by the 'Anti' crowd, so I can systematically tear them apart and feel better about myself afterwards. In no particular order:

  • Homosexuality is a choice or a psychological defect
  • Gay people detract from 'Family Values'
  • Allowing same sex marriage would cause <insert horrible thing here>
  • It's unnatural
I'm sure there are a good number of other things that I could get pissed off about, but for now, I'll stick with the top four in the interest of brevity.

I think I'll start with some pictures, since the other side of this argument isn't big on reading...

So, what we have here a series of MRI images showing the active centers of four different brains, in response to sexual stimulation. The full study can be found here. In this study, a group of Swedish scientists set about trying to find similarities between the active portion of different brains. 25 heterosexual men, 25 hetero women, 20 homosexual men and 20 homosexual women. What they found is pretty well illustrated above. Now, to a rational human being, this study would be enough to close the argument, but as soon you throw a bible in the mix, or start talking about 'God' people get all misty eyed and rational thinking gets tossed out the window. Happily, though, there are other avenues to this argument that even irrational fundamentalists can't just brush under the rug, even though they try.

Consider the climate in the world today. The average gay person is going to have to endure the kind of hate, abuse, discrimination and general ill-treatment, unheard of since the 1960's. We're talking about beatings, rape, harassment, picket lines at gay funerals (my favorite, since it's so damned classy), social stigma and general suspicion. And so-called 'sympathetic groups' aren't necessarily better, since using 'Gay Issues' is a great way to sway Democratic votes, and parading flaming homosexuals in front of some news cameras is a great photo-op if you're running for public office, and really need the liberals to come out for you. Does this sound like something a person would CHOOSE? And if it's psychological, it's a fucking pandemic of crazy on a scale rivaling the Bubonic Plague. We're talking about something on the order of six million people, in the U.S. alone, that have some kind of martyr complex. Some one said something once about eliminating the impossible to find the most probable solution. I think that applies here.

Family values seems a laughable point, considering who it is that's bringing it up. The guys are basically closet homosexuals, or adulterers, and they're grandstanding about 'Family Values'? Are you fucking joking? Even so, let's look at it seriously. What about two gay men, or women, fucking is so damned threatening to the rest of the world's 'Values'? I'm honestly confused by this argument, because in the same breath they're saying that it's acceptable for the majority to discriminate against, condemn and protest against an entire group of people simply because they don't fuck how we do. Where's the logic here? I know, I'm asking a lot, but... seriously? Which is a greater moral issue? Two adults having sex in a committed relationship, or violating the basic human rights of several million people?

Marriage... we're honestly arguing about this as a culture. Other countries have gotten over it, and moved on. Some states have pulled their heads out of their asses and figured out that the counter argument is bullshit. Despite these facts, there's still a large enough group of people in MOST states to make the idea uncomfortable to address on a national level. So, what the fuck is marriage anyway? I'm going to have to throw out gender, because the issue here is that the people who would be entering into a newly defined form of marriage would both have the same gender. Not that I give a shit about whether or not people have interlocking groins. The most basic definition of marriage is simply a legally binding commitment between two people who love each other who have chosen to say to the world that they're going to be together for the foreseeable future, and aren't going to fuck other people. On a civil level, that little piece of paper also confers a good deal of power and rights to one's partner, as well as allowing the couple to file joint tax returns, access one another's personal information and in the event of some medical emergencies, make important decisions in the best interest of their spouse. Y'know what? Fine... don't call it marriage, call it a 'Civil Union', what ever, but the issue isn't religious. The issue is civil. The religious argument is rendered invalid by the Bill of Rights, and our guaranteed separation of church and state. You don't get to dictate the legislative process with your Bible any more than anyone else does with their holy book.

I've mentioned before that I dabble in anthropology, and I find the idea that homosexuality as some kind of unnatural state to be high humor. Let's forget, for a moment, that I've already argued this point above. Let's ignore the facts I've already laid out... let's look at history for a moment. No, before Christ... No, before Rome... Keep going. Before the Greek city states... Approximately 10,000 years ago, around the time the first humans were making their way into the lower 48, there were gay people, but let's go further back than that. Consider the simple fruit fly. We've all heard anecdotal evidence of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom, but what if it was scientifically documented, and completely repeatable, in a significantly simple form of life, like Drosophila Melanogaster. Well... go click that link and read up on it. The fact that homosexuality is well documented, historically, in human cultures dating back to our earliest known forms simply cements the idea that, not only is this natural, it's been with us since life began on Earth. Which means homosexuality is an inevitable fact of sexually reproductive life forms.

The homosexuality debate, which really ought not be a debate at all at this point, is one of those cases where one side has facts, evidence, reason, logic, science, rationality and history, and the other side... Well, the other side has howler monkeys, picket signs, chest thumping, propaganda and morally ambiguous spokespeople.

Which side do you figure I'm on?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Atheism: See, now here's the problem with that...

I've never been one to tip-toe around a subject, but it strikes me that I've been doing precisely that for two thirds of my previous posts, so let me get right into this and lay my cards on the table.

Earlier today, I used the following quote to help elaborate on my stance regarding the relationship between science and religion:

"There is no contradiction between true religion and science. When a religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which is contrary to knowledge is ignorance." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá (The full article can be found here)

I think this kind of scratches the surface of the whole 'Atheism v. Theism' debate. As I see it, there are some fundamental flaws in the Atheist position on the matter. First, the argument presented is that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own. (Quoted from American Atheists)Which is often simplified (overly so) to mean 'Since we cannot prove with science that God exists, God must not exist' which is an argument from ignorance, in it's most essential form. Using this logic, we assume that science will never be able to prove that God (in some form or definition) can possibly exist.

As a counter-point to this, I like Arthur C. Clarke's statement on technology and magic... "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Which, in essence, is saying that, any culture which lacks the sophistication to comprehend a thing using logic and reason will explain it in whatever terms it has available. Thus, religion was born to explain those things that logic and reason cannot, and assuming that we have reached the level of technological sophistication to be able to quantify and rationalize every occurrence that has happened, will happen or is currently happening is arrogant in the extreme. We barely understand our own consciousness, much less the universe we live in.

Which brings me to my next point... Stuart Hameroff, a researcher on the subject of Quantum Consciousness, where in the idea of a pre-existant consciousness (proto-conscious) begins to take shape. Now, I'm not a scientist, but I fancy myself as smart enough to comprehend a thing or two. Hameroff presents ideas in the above linked article explaining how and when consciousness might have evolved, and it's a damn sight earlier in Earth's history that was previously suggested. In other circles (nothing I've found suggests that Hameroff himself supports the following) the idea of a pre-existant consciousness is expanded to include the theory that 'God' is not a single omnipotent being with a single omnipresent and omniscious consciousness, but instead that what we grubby creatures refer to as 'God' is actually a collective consciousness made up of every individual consciousness that has ever been, existing as a function of the quantum interactions of the microtubules that make up the smallest pieces of a living brain. Simplified, the universe itself is aware and conscious, and our consciousness is simply the inevitable result of that awareness.

This flies in the face of the Atheist argument, however, because it would mean that the 'Supernatural' is, in fact, 'Natural' and essential to life and the universe. My religious beliefs (interestingly enough) actually dove-tail nicely with the conclusions in the above paragraph.

Now, here's the kicker... My faith teaches me to respect the right to believe as one chooses and to love my fellow man as I love myself, and to never NEVER (under any circumstances) imply that some one else is some how condemned because they believe something different than I do.

On the other hand, in spite of a few beautiful statements and monologues given by some more vocal members of the Atheist community, the prevailing opinion that I personally have encountered is closer to Frank R. Zindler who says things like, "We must revoke the evolutionary curse that nature laid upon us when it created religion," or, even more confrontational statements that I'll also quote. "[Atheism] shall work ceaselessly and with all its energy resources to bring about the liberation of the human mind, to free religion’s prisoners, and to find cures for all the varieties of that most deadly disease, religiosity." How is this less inflammatory than statements made by Fred Phelps? Or Rush Limbaugh? or other members of the fundamentalist religious right? Religion is a deadly disease? No... ignorance, intolerance, hate and discrimination are diseases (communicable and hereditary). Religion is, at worst, used to justify horrible occurrences of these. At its best, religion is a the cure for them. The problem is how the message is interpreted, but too many people of faith choose to let some one else do their reading for them and refuse to draw their own conclusions.

Ignorance, in any form, is a dangerous thing.

Pure Creationism V. Pure Evolotuion: Who's the Bigger Moron

I mentioned in my first post that this is one of those arguments where I fall into an interestingly grey area. On one side of the argument you'll find a great deal of intolerance, ranting, name calling and histrionics... and the Creationists are pretty goddamn ignorant too.

I feel the need to start out with a warning. A lot of the faults and flaws I'm going to bring up are sweeping generalizations. I recognize that there are people in the ID (Intelligent Design) camp that are tolerant, educated and well spoken, but they usually can't be heard over the shouting howler monkeys that take the lead and pound the drums. I recognize, as well, that there are individuals within the Pure Evolution fold who are not militant atheists, and who accept the right of the individual to believe as they choose... They just don't get as much press as, say... Bill Maher. Not that I have a problem with Bill Maher, he's fucking hilarious and I see value in a lot of the arguments he presents on a lot of different issues. Just not on religion.

As a student of anthropology (once upon a time) the necessity of evolution and adaptation are obvious to me. By the same token, as a student of anthropology and of world religions, the existance of some creative 'force' is obvious as well. And while science has yet to be able to prove, with conclusive evidence, in favor of either side of the argument neither side will easily concede that fact. Either that the existance of a 'God' type entity cannot be disproven (because you can't prove a negative), or that the mechanism of evolution could have manifested without an omnipotent nudge in the right direction.

We'll start with Pure Evolution, because these arrogant motherfuckers piss me off to no end.

The crux of this argument seems to be (remember, I said there would be sweeping generalizations) that:

Life + Time = Sentience

Regardless of form, source, basic make-up, the manifestation of sentient life is a forgone conclusion, once the most basic form of life manifests. As a counter argument to creationism, this seems flawed. First, it gives no basis for a denial of a 'creator' entity. It's a simple enough formula, and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. We know that single celled organisms adapt over a few million generations, to suit their environment. Long-term adaptation by an individual species is fact. The fossil record proves it. It's repeatable. We can see it in a few months with bacteria that reproduce at a rate several orders of magnitude faster than multi-cellular life, we'll call this micro-evolution. The problem is, with multi-cellular life, as an organism becomes more complex, the apparent signs of adaptation takes longer, we'll call this macro-evolution. Micro-evolution takes days, months, and years. Macro-evolution takes thousands of years, at the minimum, in order for natural selection and adaptation to a new environment to become obvious to the observer. I've digressed, but there's the essence of it. So what about this pisses me off? Well... the simple answer is... nothing, really. It's logical, it's simple, and it's elegant. With this basic idea, I have no problem with the idea that life evolved in all its current forms from simpler forms, back to the muck that spawned the first wriggly amoeba.

What galls me is the idea that acceptance of the science of evolution apparently precludes religious faith. I've had arguments, vehement and vitriolic arguments, with militant atheists who insisted that I could not possibly believe in God and accept evolution at the same time. Like some how the two are mutually exclusive ideas. These are the people that I loathe. A closed mind is an ignorant mind, regardless of education or beliefs. Fine! Fuck it! You don't believe in God. Good for you. Welcome to America. Now shut the fuck up and put on your goddamn helmet.

One of the beautiful things about living in the time we live in, especially those of us who enjoy citizenship in countries that have legislation guranteeing religious freedom, is that we are free to believe (or not believe) whatever the fuck we want. You can believe in nothingness after death, and random chance as being responsible for everything that happens. That's fine, but don't tell me that I'm being irrational because I choose to believe in a creative force in the universe that predates creation. The theory of evolution, in this case macro-evolution, can be no more solidly proven than the existance of a 'God-Construct', for lack of a better term, which actually has a number of serious scientists working on it. The difference is, my belief has the potential to be proven. Yours doesn't, because a negative can't be proven with scientific method. Again, though, I digress from my point.

The other side of this matter doesn't win any prizes in my head either. There's nothing I can say to redeem a group of people who will shout themselves red-faced, prostelatizing that 'God Did It!' or that dinosaur fossils are here to test our faith, or worse, that cave men rode them. Vehemently rejecting an idea does not make you right.

Once again, the crux of this argument, from my point of view, seems to be:

God + ??? = People

Now, I'm no math major, and I fucking hate algebra, but even from where I'm sitting there's obviously something out of place here. I understand that 'Faith' by definition requires some one to believe in something without NEEDING proof. I'm fine with that, but not being able to reconcile one's faith with irrefutable science makes you look like a screetching gibbon. Complete with poo-flinging and chest thumping. Belief in a creator entity is all well and good. Hell, I'm a man of faith myself, but my faith tells me that science and religion not only can agree, but MUST agree.

My favorite quote on the matter is: "There is no contradiction between true religion and science. When a religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which is contrary to knowledge is ignorance." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

Anyone who cares to make a salient argument with me might do well to research the source of that quote, and get back to me.

In essence, what you're pounding on is becoming superstition, because you refuse to accept that there might be an alternate explanation to what some guy in a dress told you was so. News flash... clergy aren't special. They're just people. Even the Pope is just 'Some Guy'. Granted, he's 'Some Guy' in a pretty epic hat, but he's still just a guy... AND EVEN HE ACCEPTS EVOLUTION! How is this even still an argument. The highest ranking member of the largest single religion on Earth accepts evolution... End of argument! If you're still up in the air on this, I'd like to offer you some real estate under some high voltage electrical wires... Hopefully they sterilize you.

Once again, an closed mind is an ignorant mind. I don't care if you believe in Allah, Buddah, Zoroasterism, Juddaism, Christ, Muhammed, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or nothing at all. If you let that BELIEF (yes, even Atheism is a belief) prevent you from accepting an alternate point of view that can be supported with logical and well formed ideas... you're showing your ignorance. The Atheist chest thumping AGAINST religion is no less ill-concieved than the Religious Fundamentalist chest thumping FOR religion... but that's a blog for another day.

In the end, believe what you want, but accept that you don't know everything, and that neither science nor religion has managed yet to fully explain everything.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fuck You Al Gore ...

We all know who he is, and we all remember some of his memorable moments: Claiming to have invented the internet. Sitting like a wooden statue through 8 years of the Clinton Administration. Somehow earning a Nobel Prize for a Power Point presentation.

Fuck that guy.

Don't misunderstand, I'm quite aware that without Al Gore helping to spearhead legislation, today's internet would probably be a very different place. He really was instrumental in getting us to where we are today. I also know that he did the Climate Change movement a great service by slapping his name onto 'An Inconvenient Truth' and parading around like a dancing bear. Despite these things, I'll say it again... Fuck you Al Gore.

Here we are, hip-deep in what has been theorized to be the most critical point in preventing the eventual warming effect that will result in wide-spread flooding and the eventual end of life as we know it, and this chuckle-head is on a no-name network, being a talking head for the Iowa Caucuses, which begs the question...

What happened to climate change?

Did the Republican Presidential nomination suddenly take precedence over the planet? Did we fix it and no one bothered to tell me?

It's actually moments like this that I'm proud to distance myself from both sides of that aisle. I don't have to tow either party's line, and I can sit here and point out the flaws in all of them.

In the conservative ranks, there's a huge call to simply ignore the possibility that we (humanity) has broken the planet. Climate Change is just junk science anyway, right guys? There's no evidence to support it... except that it's not, and there is.

On the liberal side of the political island, the leadership is too damned limp-wristed to act on any of the facts already in evidence. Fantastic! A former VP stood up and gave a speech a bunch of times... how about some legislation, fellas? Why didn't you folks make use of that majority you had in Congress and force the legislation through. No where is Congress required to have 2/3rds majority. Except when the Democrats have the reins.

All we ever get out of any of the asshole politicians are excuses. "We can't because of X, Y, oh and don't forget about Z and baby Jesus, because God told us we could." I've read the bible, and I don't remember anything in there saying that some white assholes begin given permission to rape the planet into another ice age.

It's a sad fact of how Americans are raised to see the world that, unless something directly impacts us in a major way, we really don't get up in arms about it. People in the Great Lakes region didn't get pissed off about Katrina, or the Oil Spill last year, or the outbreaks of tornadoes this past spring. People in California didn't shed a tear for the New England region when a hurricane caught them grossly unprepared.

Maybe if we hosed down every front yard in America with crude oil, or flooded everyone's living room, then they'd get the goddamn message. Until then, I don't think the capitalist machine is going to slow down. It'll just keep on dry humping the atmosphere until the damned thing goes dry as a tired hooker, who is so tired of being abused that she pulls out her .38 and empties all six chambers into the sick fucker who called her a whore for the last fucking time.

Which reminds me of a joke...

What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?

I Promised Myself I Was Done With This

Fuck Twitter, fuck Facebook and fuck my ability to read, because without those three contributing factors, I might have talked myself out of wading knee-deep into the cesspool of internet blogging. Fine, fuck it... I'm weak. I'll just have to accept that.

For my first trick, some ground rules. This blog is subject to moderation based on my own personal opinions of what is and is not fucked up. Comment all you want. Sub, don't sub, whatever floats your boat. I'm doing this for me, not for you. Comments I find horrifying, wrong, criminal or trollish won't get a warning... they'll just be moderated appropriately. Childish? Maybe, but fuck you. This is my goddamn blog, and last I checked I'm not coming into your house telling you how and where to shit, so you don't get to be pissy about how I choose to run this motherfucker.

If you like what I have to say, agree with an opinion, or otherwise want to throw up a fist and yell 'Hell Yeah!'... great. Glad I could do that for ya. Alternately, if you don't like what I have to say, disagree with an opinion or otherwise want to punch me in the face... great. Sorry I'm not your cup of tea. In either case, you two fuckers don't get to steal my goddamn lime light by acting like assholes on my blog and breaking into a flame war. There are forums for that. This ain't the place.

For my next trick, I'll introduce myself. My name is Patrick, (AKA: 'KreepyKritter', KK or 'You Fucking Asshole'), I'm 30 years old, and I'm the sore fucking thumb. I'm a religious person who hangs out in skeptic communities. I'm the guy who accepts the theory of Evolution as true, and also believes that mechanism was put in motion intentionally. I'm the dirty fucker that neither side of the Evolution Argument likes. I'd call it a debate, but that would require it to be intelligent. I'm the guy who knows what vaccines are, what their purpose is, and that they're not dangerous in the slightest (short term), but who still refuses to get the stupid fucking flu shot, because it's ineffective, and hinders the ability of the human immune system to adapt to new strains. I'm an equal opportunity asshole. If you're a guy and you're being a stupid prick, I'm going to call you a stupid prick. Alternately, if your a chick (deal with it) and you're being a dumb cunt... I'm going to call you a dumb cunt.

This brings me to the stupid shit that made starting up my first blog in 10 years sound like a good idea...


This 'open letter' was the snowball that got me rolling. I'm not going to reference it further, because I've read it and if you're still reading this I imagine you have too. If you haven't, go ahead and take a moment. It's okay. I'll wait...
Done? Great, let's move on.

Little did I know that, prior to the writing, there'd been a bit of a dust-up over the choice of humor being used among skeptics. And by 'bit' I of course mean that the blog-o-sphere damn near vapor-locked and imploded in on itself. Outside of that context, it reads like the young woman who penned it simply wanted to convey to her friends that she loved and accepted them for all their strengths and faults, and didn't see anything wrong with them, or anything that needed to change about them or their local community. Great message, right? I mean... I KNOW I'm an asshole. I admit it... if you missed it, scroll up and then get your ass back down here so we can move on. Knowing that I'm an asshole, and that, despite that fact, there are people who enjoy that about me is validating. It's nice. It's humanizing. It makes me feel valued, even though I can be abrasive and irritating.

Notice what I said... Asshole. Let me clarify that term a bit, so we're all on the same page. An asshole (by my definition) is some one who says the shit that the majority of the people around them are already thinking, but wouldn't dare say because of... whatever. IE: Fat guy walks past you wearing bicycle shorts, an Asshole might make the following observation, "Whoa... I suppose he must be testing the tenisle strength of spandex". Is it rude? Yes. Is it in poor taste? Absolutely! Did everyone nearby probably just have a similar thought? Of course. They were just too polite to say it out loud.

There's poor taste, and then there's down right inappropriate. Jokes that make violence against another person sound okay are inappropriate. Jokes that point out widely accepted stereotypes are funny -- many Irish people drink too much, many Jewish people are cheap, most fat people eat too much, many black people listen to rap and many white people in the South are ignorant fucks. These are stereotypes that are funny because they're true. Jokes that involve dicks, cunts, boobs or the word 'Fuck' ... those are funny. Finally, jokes about rape... well... If you find rape funny, you can go die in a fucking fire.